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Princess Flower Brings Glory To The Garden
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
With a name like Princess Flower or Glorybush, you can probably guess this plant has some outstanding attributes. The past few weeks, I have been telling you about tropical plants available at your local garden center that offer some of the best value for your gardening dollar. The Princess Flower is one of those plants.
I started growing Princess Flower six years ago when I lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and saw the royal purple flowers that lured me to open my wallet. None of the available plants had a tag telling me what it was but, I felt it was something I needed for the patio.
I was pleasantly surprised to find them for sale just about everywhere in Mississippi. Although gardeners here have much more experience with them than do gardeners in Texas, I rarely see any at someone's home.
The Princess Flower is known botanically as Tibouchina urvilleana, but there are some other species starting to show up that also are worth growing. I find it funny that this plant in the melastomatacae family has no family members that I recognize.
The Princess Flower is native to Brazil and produces flowers of exceptional beauty. This tropical can be grown in the landscape as an annual or as a container plant on the porch, patio or deck. Those for sale in the Jackson area this year were in the 4-foot range. In their native area, they reach 12- to 18-feet in height, and it is common to find them in a variety of sizes.
The purple flowers have several buds on the branch tips. The velvety, deep green leaves are lined in orange and are among the most striking of any plant. The leaves change to an orange or bronze as they age, hence they are almost as eye-catching as the purple flowers.
Princess Flower bloom best if grown in full sun. The bloom cycles off and on throughout the season, with the heaviest bloom in mid- to late-summer through fall. Prune leggy branches to stimulate more growth and blooms. They prefer well-drained, slightly acidic, organic-rich beds.
The Tibouchina grandiflora, or large-leafed Princess Flower, is starting to find its way to garden centers in the Southeast and is among the most exotic and tropical. These leaves are huge and fuzzy, but the flowers are produced on large panicles with dozens opened at once.
It is not very hard to grow one in a container or dig and overwinter the plant. The most serious requirement is to not over- water it. Keep it dry during the winter. Those of you who like to propagate plants will find it easy to root from greenwood-type cuttings placed in moist sand in a shady location. They can also be grown from seed.
Tropical plants are at the top of the popularity list, and those with blooms like the Princess Flower make it hard to say no to them for your garden!